Why is this Wine so Yummy?
The 2015 Vintage
The climate of the 2015 was an extremely regular one and respected, in the various phases of the growing season, the typical meteorological conditions of the Chianti Classico production zone. A cold and relatively dry winter preceded a spring characterized first by damp weather in the months of March and April which then turned dry in May and June. Temperatures were regular during this period, guaranteeing a perfect development of vine vegetation and an optimal flowering and bud set.
Summer was hot, with peak temperatures in the month of July, but with excellent temperature swings between daytime warmth and evening and nighttime coolness as well which assured the growth and development of the grapes without any particular conditions of stress.
The month of August, hot as well, was marketed by some rainfall which stimulated a very favorable start to the ripening process.
The picking of the grapes took place between late September and early October. The Cabernet Franc harvest was carried out between September 28th and 30th, and picking then continued, with the Sangiovese from September 29th to October 3rd. The harvest terminated with the Cabernet Sauvignon crop, picked from October 4th to October 10th. Total annual rainfall: 24.45 inches (64.68 centimeters) Average daily temperature April 1st- October 12th: 68.5° Fahrenheit (20.27° centigrade) Rainfall April 1st – October 12th : 11.45 inches (29.12 centimeters)
The 2015 vintage, very regular in the successive stages of its growing season, will be remembered for the harvesting of perfectly ripe and healthy grapes thanks to a climate which was quite favorable during the entire cycle of the vine. Despite this positive weather, the attention level, both in the vineyard and the cellar, was very high during the picking, the fermentation, and the aging of the grapes.
Upon arriving in the cellar, the grape bunches were delicately destemmed and the berries, before pressing, were carefully selected on the sorting table; here the attention to every detail insured that only perfect grapes went into the 6000 liter (1600 gallon) conical fermenting tanks.
The must was then slowly transformed into wine: during this phase it was necessary to exercise the maximum care to maintain freshness and fragrance without, however, neglecting the extraction of color, utilizing as well a management of tannins aimed at suppleness and elegance. Once the wine was run off its skins, it was put through a complete malolactic fermentation, which took place in small oak barrels to further bring out freshness and flavor pleasure.
The aging process continued in 60 gallon French oak barrels and lasted approximately 18 months. During this period, the various lots, fermented and aged separately on the basis of the grape variety and the vineyard conditions, aged properly and were then blended together a few months before bottling.
Notes from the winemaker The 2015 is to be considered as among the finest of all for its ideal climatic conditions in every phase of the growing season, culminating during the harvest period, which saw the grapes ripen in a perfect fashion. The extreme care and attention during the fermentation and the selection of the barrels for the aging of the wine guaranteed the production of a wine of uncontestable potential, one with an excellent balance and an outstanding personality.
The History of Solaia
by Antonio Galloni, Vinous
The Antinori family of Florence, one of the world’s oldest and most distinguished wine producers, has lived in Tuscany since the 14th century and celebrated its 625th anniversary as wine makers in 2010. The current company president, Marchese Piero Antinori, believes in the tradition that the primary role of wine is to accompany food and enhance the dining experience. In Florence, the Antinori family has led a “Renaissance” in Italian wine making by combining long traditions, a love of authenticity and a dynamic innovative spirit.
Solaia emerges from a handful of hillside blocks within Antinori’s vast Tignanello property in San Casciano Val di Pesa in the northern part of the Chianti Classico region. Like many cutting-edge Tuscan wines, Solaia began its lift as an experiment. In 1978 Antinori had a little more Cabernet Sauvignon/Franc for their Tignanello than they needed, so a small amount was bottled separately. The rest, as they say, is history. Pretty much.
The first two vintages were 80% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Cabernet Franc. With the 1982 vintage, Solaia took the shape it pretty much has today, which is about 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Sangiovese and 5% Cabernet Franc. In a few vintages, such as 1985 and 1989-1994, the Cabernet Sauvignon percentage has been closer to 70%, while the Franc has gone up to 10%. The other exception is 2002, a very difficult vintage, in which Solaia is 90% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Cabernet Franc.
Over the years, Solaia has been a good stylistic barometer for Tuscany. In the 1980s, Solaia was quite classic and Bordeaux-inspired. In the 1990s, ripeness and concentration were both given an extra push, while the 2000s saw a return to earlier harvests and a search for greater finesse.
1982 was the first vintage in which Solaia includes Sangiovese, an early precursor to how the wine would develop in the coming years.
The wines really entered the stratosphere with the 2004 Solaia the first of the truly epic modern Solaia. This is the first vintage in which the component wines were aged separately and blended towards the end of aging. That, along with more care in managing temperature in fermentation and aging, and the fabulous vintage combine to produce a super-silky, polished Solaia. Sweet, refined tannins and pure sophistication are the hallmarks of this era of dazzling, totally head-spinning Solaias.
From this point Antinori began seeking to elevate the finesse in the wine. In recent years, the winemaking team headed by Renzo Cotarello has shifted towards a style that seeks more energy and vibrancy in the wines than in the past, something that is very much in evidence in tasting through the 2015’s.